SeaKnots

Monohull sailboats are obviously the most common for cruisers, but I've noticed a lot more people starting to go with Catamarans recently. Why is this? Is one really better overall then the other? Just looking for opinions, comments; let me know what you think.

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Yea, that's the mandatory escape hatch for when/if you flip.
Pretty nice ventilation when your bilges aren't too full.
Why do they have escape hatches? Because they float and you can get out of them instead of going to the bottom as you would in a monohull.
hmmm... I don't think so. If they fill up with water they'll sink just as fast. They have hatches because they flip...
This is quite an interesting point - from what I can see there are more boats flooded due to these silly escape hatches and yet very few people injured due to not having an escape hatch...

Another incident which can happen with these hatches is that they can be stove in by a serious slamming sea. It's also not a common event, but another reason why they are not really that helpful

The reason for them as far (as I can tell) is insurers and "standards" folks who mandate them - possibly it's required in the charter market also? But I agree with the point above - they are more of a liability than a help in general

Just to address a point raised by another poster. Cat's and Tri's are generally made of materials which innately float. So if for example you punch large holes in both hulls then you still have a boat which floats (albeit possibly a lot lower in the water) The previous boat my father owned was "sunk" in this way (before he bought it) - basically it just floated a lot lower in the water...

Clearly you have a huge amount of water damage to all your interior decorations, but the point is that unlike a boat with many tons of lead attached to the bottom, usually these multi-hulls will never "sink". All things being equal I would probably prefer to be in a 40foot semi submerged boat than a small life raft

Everything is down to "tool for the job". Seems like the "it doesn't look as pretty" is a common reason for not liking a cat/tri.

My rough statistics are that we see a couple of our customers a year sink their monos, usually due to leaks, often keel failure or similar (hit something submerged, whale/container/etc). So far I have never had a customer sink or capsize their multi (or at least I have never heard from them after they did so...) I do have a lot more customers in monos than multis though - however, the point is that cruising multi's certainly arent a huge safety liability that some might claim (I dare say we will still see some racing ones flip, but that's a different game really)
ever heard of monos sinking because they just left the toilet valve open while sailing?! Some of them even sunk in a marina after a heavy rain storm, but they really SUNK, I asume the ONE cat-hull was considerable deeper, but the cat as a whole boat was NOT sunk.

This is the biggest disadvantage of a cat, they give pretty pictures when they have a problem, a mono just disappears to ground level and nobody talks about it as there is no scary picture.

Yes, they have "escape" hatches, actually they are more "access" hatches, a mono does not need them, time to open would be to short and/ or water presure some hundret feet below is to high, no way to open them anyway. But maybe you refuse visiting a cinema or malls too, they all have emergency doors, something scary.

For me the cat is the much safer boat, safer because in general they can not sink, even flipped you might survive months on them as you have accces to your provisions, a sunken mono will not help you in any way, a life raft is not very promising too.

The motion at sea is much more comfortable as it stays upright, easier to walk and work and sleep and COOK. yes, going against you might experiance slamming and that sounds mostly more scary at it is, a good helmsman might change course if possible.

Disadvantage of course, expensive as you buy 2 boats and pay more in a marina and more underwater paint, unfair anyway, as you should not compare same boat length, a 40ft cat has room as a 50ft mono, there the underwater paint is similar, marina fees too

advantage, less spare parts as mostly you have 2 engines anyway and 1 engine alone gives you 75% performance compared to 2. I know mono cruisers that carry almost a second engine in spare parts, but in an emergency that will not help lacking time to repair,

If you say you just like mono more, I have no problem with it, but do not argue with somebody making a mistake like leaving an escape hatch open....

Henry
I suggest you read "The Cruising Multihull" by Chris White.
Thanks for the suggestion, looks good so I bought it :-)
I thought this would be of interest to this discussion:

Extract from The Caribbean Compass: "Multihulls Viewed from the Yacht Claims Desk"

If one was to distill the Claims Desk experiences dealing with catamaran claims in the tropics, the following are the practical conclusions which would result:
1) The catamaran is more exposed to lightning strikes and dismasting than is the conventional monohull.
2) The downwind voyage to the US mainland of a catamaran coming out of charter service poses an unusually high risk for catastrophic loss.
3) The very nature of catamaran boating attracts those whose interests are more sensory than nautical, hence the seamanship level of many catamaran sailors and owners is far below that of traditional cruising sailors. The vessel's stability and ease of management can cause over-confidence and a false sense of security, factors which are prime causes of marine accidents.
4) The beam of the catamaran sometimes limits dockage options and access to repair facilities, resulting in a greater exposure to loss and adversely affecting repair options and costs.
5) Any vessel equipped with escape hatches in the underside of the hull, and sacrificial keels, displays indications that extraordinary caution is required for safe operation.
6) Insurers, owners and those seeking objective information should avoid the surveyor who calls a catamaran hull an "ama", since such incorrect usage is intended to give the impression of knowledge where none exists.

Full article: http://www.caribbeancompass.com/cat_controversy.htm
I agee with most other posters. It depends on the type of sailing you want to do. I also feel a monohull has a more asthetically pleasing appearance, would more likely recover in the event of a knockdown or 180 roll, and allows the helmsperson to still "feel" the yacht under different weather conditions. However there are so many variables to consider like Admirals, budget, vessel size, ect, that no 2 people would have the same exact set of circumstances and choose the same boat. It all comes down to personal preference tailored to individual circumstances and priorities.
I think probably this YouTube video summarises some of the nice aspects of a Cat.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=BA_1TYYmIyY&NR=1

Notice how although they are apparently cruising at 16knots and peaking at 22knots that no one is particularly hanging on, there is a chap standing on the bow kind of holding on with one hand a little. No real sign of any wet weather gear and it would probably be complete if someone appeared with a few mugs of tea, put them on the table (where they will stay without falling off) and handed around a couple of bacon sarnies

Don't get me wrong - there are pros and conns each way - but you have to admit that this sort of cruising would be addictive...
thanks for the video. i think im more torn on which way to go when i finally buy my own now ;-)
I would say safety and comfort, as well as being easier to manage shorthanded (all are related). There are lots of safety reasons. Initial cost is certainly higher, but so is re-sale value. Most loaded cruising cats won't be much faster than a cruising monohull, except on a reach. Anchoring is simple on a cat (as is dinghy handling), which is much less expensive than staying at a marina. I haven't often found it difficult to get a slip at a marina since most transient slips are on a T dock.
It is so nice to be anchored in a pretty spot and enjoy the whole view - either from the cockpit (sometimes called the porch) or "below". It doesn't matter how nice your interior wood finish is, it can't compete with a nice view. Perhaps if you sail to ugly places?
Yes it is more difficult to find a facility which can haul a beamy cat, but remember also that some problems can be managed by beaching.
I would say that the negatives about cats now, are somewhat like the negatives about "plastic" boats compared to wood, when fiberglass was first used. The eye of the beholder.
Rob
www.changingspots.net

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